Maybe our divided nation should divide into nations
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Regarding Duncan Stewart’s piece on Wednesday, “'What color is the sky on the planet you come from?,' I couldn’t agree more: When I hear what is said by those with opposite political views, I can only shake my head and wonder:

  • When well-meaning people rail against markets or capitalism, it makes as much sense as protesting the unfairness of gravity. Not only are markets inevitable, but they are the major reason for freedom and prosperity in the modern world.
  • When I hear people decrying “greed,” I wonder if they understand just how much totalitarian coercion is required to change human nature.
  • When some declare that the minimum wage should be raised, I wonder why they think unemployment or welfare benefits are better for young people than a first job that allows them to start climbing the economic ladder.
  • When I hear calls for more regulation, I wonder why people haven’t read that our nation is steadily slipping down in rankings of economic freedom, that new jobs are being smothered by hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations.
  • When I read accusations that our government is “waging war on the poor,” by putting some limits on already-generous entitlements or welfare benefits, I wonder why the accusers believe that some people are entitled to live at others’ expense
  • When people call for more government spending, higher taxes, yet another well-meaning government program, I wonder: when will it all be enough? Don’t these people see the problems caused by over-reaching government? Yet they call for still more of it. Is it enough to feel like we’re helping people, even if what we call for is actually hurting them?


I sympathize with Mr. Duncan’s bewilderment about the things Republicans get so bothered about these days. He doesn’t see the IRS targeting tea party groups as anything sinister; he doesn’t understand why people fear government taking over health care or owning all the guns; he has no idea why so many people don’t trust government to do anything good with their money.

Because I don’t understand his views, I understand that he doesn’t understand mine. He’s right: it’s like he’s from another planet.

Or maybe just another country. The nation he wants to live in is very different from the nation I want to live in.

In my nation, people mostly agree that the proper and safe role of government is to do as little as possible, allowing the people maximum freedom to make their own decisions and keep the product of their labor, voluntarily helping those who need help.

In his nation, people mostly agree that government coercion is necessary to make the world a better place, and they aren’t unhappy living under the system they believe is fair.

But why can’t we each live in the nation we believe is right?

It’s undoubtedly time for our one, fractious nation to formally and peacefully divide into two or more peaceful nations, which would govern under different philosophies. People could choose the nation that governs the way they think best.

Just think how much happier nearly everyone would be:

Those who generally vote Democrat would be much happier if Republicans were no longer around to thwart their plans for redistribution. They could outlaw gun ownership entirely. Everyone could have “free” health insurance and “free” housing, and be guaranteed a job that pays a “living” wage.

And Republicans, while still thwarted by libertarians from passing theocratic laws or waging constant war, would indeed be much happier being allowed to live as they wish and keep their money. Businesses would thrive and fail as they deserved, and people would be able to help the needy voluntarily, not through coercion.

Of course, neither group would be able to force their beliefs on the other anymore. But that wouldn’t be so hard to give up. Would it?